Category Archives: Gadget

End of Samsung’s smartphone reign

Samsung killed Note 7. But the demise may have put massive dent on its chances of continued dominance in the smartphone universe.
Following weeks of reports of exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phablets, concerned parents are asking their kids, “You have a Samsung phone na? Please be careful, beta .
They’re exploding!” As if every Samsung mobile device has turned into a highly unstable nuclear warhead with a fast degenerating plutonium core. Some people are seeing phantom smoke come out of Samsung washing machines even. Airlines and pilots are asking passengers to turn off Note 7 devices, calling out the brand by name in a never-seen-before move.
Last week, TechCrunch’s John Biggs wondered, “Could this be the end of Samsung’s smartphone reign?” It can’t get worse, right? And yet, over at Cnet, Chris Matyszczyk made the unkindest comparison of all: “Samsung or Trump: Which brand is in bigger trouble?” He wrote, “When the mighty fall, they don’t always know how to react. After all, they’re mighty. Falling is for lesser sorts. Yet the last couple of weeks have seen two famous brands fall into disrepute by their own hands. Careless hands, small hands.”
Samsung’s Note 7 debacle is being billed as one of the worst disasters in tech history.
Analysts have calculated the total cost of a permanent end to its “combustible” flagship product’s sales and it doesn’t look pretty. A cost of $17 billion never does.
An unintentional roast
Before the first Note 7 turned into an explosive device, though, it was hailed as the ultimate victory for the South Korean electronics giant. At launch, in Samsung’s home market, over 200,000 units were pre-ordered in 2 days. Every Note 7 review was a slap in the face of Apple fanboys and gals everywhere. Even now, despite a steady stream of reports and pictures of cooked phablets, and Samsung officially killing the Note category, some users and loyalists refuse to give up their devices. Reasons vary from its superior capabilities to replacement hassles. Sample this from Josh Dickey, entertainment editor at Mashable (@JLDlite): “I am keeping my Samsung Galazy (sic) Note 7. The ORIGINAL one.
“Dickey’s piece on why he won’t abandon the “ticking time-bomb”- ‘My Galaxy Note7 is still safer than my car. I ‘m keeping it’ – comes with this disclaimer though; “Mashable does not condone keeping your Galaxy Note 7, and in fact has recommended strongly against it. This viewpoint is the author’s alone, and his judgment is obviously questionable”.’Next is what’?
“Clearly this is an unprecedented (and unanticipated) incident,” says Manu Sharma, vice president, mobile business, Samsung India . “Despite that across the world teams have worked together fast and efficiently to announce to the world and take the bold decision to have this kind of recall worldwide and not launch product in India.
The main thing that we did was tell consumers that we care about them and we don’t want them to have a device that undermines their safety.

Apps and gadgets for kids

There’s no doubting the fact that children today are much more tech-savvy than ever. They know all about the latest trends in technology and want to get their hands on the newest gadgets as soon as they hit the market. And that makes sense, as kids are (and have always been) inquisitive in nature and can’t wait to try out new things.
So here are some really good apps and gadgets that you can introduce your kids to on this Children’s Day.

YouTube Kids
Google recently launched the children-centric version of its YouTube app in India. Aptly named YouTube Kids, it’s a family-friendly app that allows children to easily find videos related to various topics.
The app’s UI consists of large images and easy navigation options to help kids. It also has voice search functionality so children can find videos by spelling their names out.Already available in 20 countries, YouTube Kids also offers some parental control features so that parents can monitor what their kids are watching.

CG Slate
Lenovo, along with educational technology company Convegenius, launched its CG Slate tablet earlier this year. According to the company, the CG Slate is ‘an NCERT curriculum -mapped, self-learning tablet for kids’. The tablet is centred on a ‘gamified’ approach to learning. As kids play and learn more they receive points, which can be redeemed to watch cartoons, play games and more.
The Lenovo -made CG Slate tablet runs Android 5.0 Lollipop out-of-the-box and features a 7-inch IPS display of 1024×600 pixel resolution. It is powered by a quad-core MediaTek MT8127 processor clubbed with 1GB RAM. Also included is 8GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 32GB via microSD cards.

Cartoon Network Anything
Launched by its namesake Cartoon Network channel, the Cartoon Network Anything app is a new platform designed to engage and entertain children.
The app serves up an array of micro 10-15 second content specifically created for mobile phones. These can be watched by children anytime and anywhere, on-the-go. The content ranges from games and videos to memes and quizzes. Trivia and animated gifts are also included. Cartoon Network Anything is available on both iOS and Android .

KUBE
A 3D educational game box for children, KUBE is powered by virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D. It also has a Brain Booster series and Skill reports to develop scholastic and co-scholastic skills of children through brain training.KUBE works on building 20 different skill-sets of children such as logic, creative thinking and curiosity. It also helps in developing 6 distinct facets of growth and exploration such as intelligence, logical thinking, language proficiency and creativity enhancement. KUBE is aimed at children of 3 to 12 years of age.

Gadgets that simplify housework

Unable to find house help? Try these great gadgets to ease your burden.

Let’s do the Roomba!
iRobot Roomba: The acclaimed cleaning robot has finally come to India. This robot is one of the best in the market and smartly cleans up your home. Unlike other bot cleaners, Roomba maps the room with its intelligent sensors plus camera and vacuum cleans every nook and corner of the room. The user can control this robot with the help of the app and set a cleaning schedule as per their liking; after this Roomba will go back to its charg ing station and get into stand by mode. This one can be picked up for `59,990.

A new brew
Mr Coffee Smart Coffeemaker: All we need in the morning is a fresh cup of coffee. What if it could be ready without lifting a finger? Well some pre-taps on the mobile phone app are required, but once done the coffee machine will do the rest on its own. This coffeemaker connects easily to the home’s Wi-fi network and, in a matter of minutes, gets ready to brew a fresh cup of coffee (once set) every morning. Priced at Rs 15,200 it is compatible with Android as well as iOS devices and can be accessed at any time and from anywhere.

Quite a dish!
Bosch Serie 6 SMS60 dishwasher: Washing the dishes is probably the most painful job one has to do. A dishwasher like this one makes a lot of sense.Bosch Serie 6 uses minimal water and time to clean all types of utensils in the household. These include steel and ceramic among others. Just place them in the tray, set the mode and let the washer do the rest. It also shows you the amount of time left in the wash cycle. It can be picked up for Rs 35,000 from most online stores.

Two for joy
LG Twin Wash washing machine: This is a larger-than-life washing machine with a capacity of over 22 kg. You can put the whole week’s laundry at once and this washing machine will clean it with the best precision.This washer has a second tub underneath that washes your delicate garments. The modes can be managed with the help of the supplied app supported on both iOS and Android devices. There are some pre-loaded wash cycles and the rest can be downloaded, and managed through the mobile app. Further, there is a troubleshoot mode available on the app. In case the machine develops a snag, the app will tell you how to resolve it with out calling a technician.

Applications favored by women

While majority of smartphone apps are equally useful for both men and women, there are some that are designed to cater specific purposes only relevant to either men or women.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the women members of Gadgets Now’s team have compiled a list of some apps that we think women would love to have on their smartphones.

App that gives driving tutorials: Time and again, you hear a lot of people say how girls are the worst drivers. While there is no logical sense behind it, there is no shutting them up. Regardless, it would be great to have an app with an integrated voice assistant that can use motion sensors to provide feedback in realtime. That way, you don’t really have to hire a “male” driving teacher who thinks ‘Women can’t drive’.

App that reminds you not to overspend: This is something everyone aims to do, not just women – the art of saving and spending money judiciously. Since now, online transactions and mobile wallets have become more popular, there could be an app that can keep an account of user’s mobile wallet. It can be compatible with e-wallet services like Paytm and FreeCharge, so users can set a limited amount to be spent per day or week. And once the limit is crossed, they get notifications. This would not only help in saving money but also keep track of the account.

App that lets you create fake phone numbers: There are times when we have to call someone we don’t want to share our number with. All of us have been in situations where we’ve regretted sharing our number with someone, primarily because of the unwanted calls and texts that come later. So an app that can be used to create fake numbers for such emergency situations would be highly appreciated. It would help if the created numbers are temporary and expire after a set time.

App that suggests what makeup products you should buy: Buying the right makeup products is a struggle every woman faces. There are times when products look great in advertisements, but turn out to be a disastrous in reality. An app that can suggest what makeup to buy based on factors such as skin tone and complexion would be great. It could have the functionality to upload user’s image to work.

App that stops you from drunk texting: Heartbreaks and breakups are a part of everyone’s life. Every now and then, people are in situations when they are missing someone they used to know and end up getting drunk.

Lava Z25: First Impressions

NEW DELHI: After quite a few months, Lava has launched a new flagship smartphone . Dubbed Z25, the smartphone is part of the company’s new Z-series. Bearing a price tag of Rs 18,000, the Z25 is Lava’s costliest smartphone till date. The company says that it has worked hard on the design and camera aspects of the smartphone, and that it’s nowhere similar to Lava’s previous devices.We used the Lava Z25 for a short while at the launch event, and found it to be convincing in a few departments.

Design and display
Lava seems to have played it safe when it comes to the design. The Z25 has a smooth body made of Series 5 metal and looks decent from the front. However, the back panel is nothing interesting and looks exactly that of the Redmi Note 4 , Lenovo K6 Note or Coolpad Note 5 Lite . That said, it’s not bad overall.
During our limited testing, the fingerprint sensor was quite fast and recognized fingerprints every time. Lava claims that it can unlock the smartphone in 0.1 second.
The smartphone weighs 163g and has an 88.6% screen-to-body ratio. What we found to be baffling is Lava’s decision to go with on-screen buttons, even with the big bezel below the 5.5-inch display. Another issue is the inclusion of a low-resolution HD (720×1280 pixel) display in a Rs 18,000 smartphone. Budget smartphones from other brands such as Micromax and Honor, which are priced well below the Lava Z25, come with Full HD resolution displays.

Performance and camera
Coming to the OS, the Lava Z25 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the company’s Star OS 3.3 UI layer running on top. The interface is easy to use, but doesn’t come with an app drawer. Also, app icons look outdated and similar to those seen in Android UIs by Chinese smartphone makers.
Lava Z25 features a 13MP rear camera with Sony Exmor IMX258 sensor, f/2.0 aperture and dual-LED flash. In our limited time usage, the camera performed well in artificial light conditions. However, we are yet to test it extensively. On the other hand, the 8MP front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture and LED flash was quite impressive. We think it could even be one of the best in this price segment. The camera comes with a front-facing LED flash, which helps in taking detailed images without any problems.

As far as specifications go, the Z25 is backed by a 3,020mAh battery and supports a Super Power Saver Mode. It is powered by a 1.5GHz octa-core processor with 4GB of RAM. It also has 32GB of internal storage, with support for microSD cards of up to 128GB in size.

Xiaomi Mi Max 2

Xiaomi launched the successor to its Mi Max smartphone in India. Dubbed Mi Max 2, the phablet is priced at Rs 16,999. The Mi Max 2 comes with a 6.44-inch full HD display and is backed by a massive 5,300 mAh battery, with fast charging support. We spent some time with the device and here are our first impressions of the same.

Design
Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is pretty good upgrade to its predecessor Mi Max in terms of design. The phablet now flaunts a curved design and matte black colour body which gives a stylish look to the device. The rear panel houses a 12MP rear camera with dual tone LED flash along with a fingerprint sensor and the company logo. The front of the device is home to a 5MP selfie camera and three capacitive keys for back, home and options. The right side has the power button and volume rockers while the SIM card tray sits on the left. The bottom of the device consists of USB Type – C and stereo speakers, while the top has the 3.5mm audio jack and IR blaster. The device is quite big in size but is not at all bulky. In fact, the design is much better when we compare it to its predecessor.

Display
The Xiaomi Mi Max comes with a 6.44-inch full HD display with 1080×1920 pixel resolution same as its predecessor. The display is made scratch resistant with a coating of Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on top. The display is vibrant and offers pretty good visibility under the sun. The viewing angles are also fine and it also doesn’t attract smudges. We also played some games during our short usage and the large screen further enhanced the user experience.

Software
The Mi Max 2 runs Android 7.0 Nougat operating system based on MIUI 8. The UI is clean and there is no app drawer, which means that all the apps are placed on the home screen. The smartphone also comes pre-installed with apps such as anti-virus, Mi account, updater and others, which are found in all Xiaomi smartphones.

Camera
The Mi Max 2 comes with a 12MP with Sony IMX386 sensor and dual LED flash. It can record full HD videos. There is also a 5MP f/2.0 front camera for selfies. The software features are similar to what is found in most Xiaomi phones. Since we didn’t spend too much time with the device, it is hard for us to comment on the quality of the camera. However, the device seems to click some decent images, especially selfies. Wait for our review for more details.

Coolpad Cool Play 6

Chinese smartphone maker Coolpad launched its first budget smartphone with 6GB RAM in India. The Coolpad Cool Play 6 comes with a price tag of Rs 14,999 and is available in Soft Gold and Black colour options. We got our hands on the Coolpad Cool Play 6 and used it for a limited time at the time of the launch and here are our initial impressions.

Design
The Coolpad Cool Play 6 looks quite similar to the Cool1 smartphone. The smartphone has an all metal unibody design with a matte finish back. Despite a 5.5-inch screen size, the handset doesn’t feel big and is comfortable for one hand operation. The rear panel houses the dual rear camera setup, 13MP+13MP with dual LED flash. Underneath the camera, there is a fingerprint sensor and the company logo. The front of the device has an 8MP selfie camera at the top, along with the earpiece and a proximity sensor. At the bottom, there are three backlit capacitive keys that are not part of the display.
Moving on to the sides, the right side houses the power button and volume rockers while the SIM card tray sits on the left. The bottom of the device consists of USB Type – C and stereo speakers, while the top has the 3.5mm audio jack. Overall, the CoolPlay 6 feels like a solid smartphone and certainly has a bit premium feel to it.

Display
The Coolpad Cool Play 6 comes with a 5.5-inch full HD display with 1080×1920 pixel resolution and 403 ppi. According to us, the display is vibrant and offers good visibility even under the sun. The viewing angles are also good enough. But that being said, the device has thick enough black bezels to make you notice and therefore leaving the viewing experience a bit imperfect. The display offers various modes such as Vivid, Natural and Eye Care modes. It even offers Display size and font size toggles for better readability.

Hardware
Cool Play 6 is powered by 64-bit, 1.4GHz octa-core Snapdragon 653 processor coupled with 6GB RAM. In terms of storage, the handset offers 64GB internal support but it’s non-expandable. It also has a fingerprint sensor at the back. The smartphone comes with dual SIM support. The device is backed by a 4,000mAh battery with fast charging support. In terms of connectivity, the dual-sim smartphone 4G, LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and USB Type-C.

Software
The Coolpad Cool Play 6 runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat operating system based on company’s own Journey UI. The UI is clean and there is no app drawer, which means that all the apps are placed on the home screen. The smartphone also comes pre-installed with apps such as Facebook, Amazon, UC News, UC Browser, Xender, which can be uninstalled.

Camera
The Cool Play 6 comes with a dual rear camera setup with two 13MP modules for depth of field and monochrome functionalities. The camera comes with f/2.0 aperture and dual-tone LED flash. There’s also an 8MP front camera with /2.2 aperture for selfies. While the rear camera is capable of recording 720p, 1080p and 4K video, the front camera offers 480p, 720p and 1080p. Some of the camera modes included in the Cool Play 6 are Panorama, long exposure and Professional mode. The blur effect in the images we captured was quite appropriate and the images turned out fine. Even the front camera did a decent job. Wait for our review for more details.

Dell XPS 13 2018 hands-on

Since changing its look, Dell’s XPS 13 has been one of the best laptops of the last three years. It’s one of the main challengers to the various MacBooks for those wanting a powerful laptop that is also all about premium materials, zingy screens and tasteful design flourishes.

And let me tell ya, I’ve seen the 2018 model, and it delivers.The latest model comes in HD and UHD versions and houses a choice of Intel 8th Generation Quad Core processors. While it might not feel like a huge leap forward from the (already pretty oomphy) previous one in terms of innards, it is actually now “twice as powerful” as the first ever XPS 13, which only dropped in 2015. Which goes to shows you that all those seemingly minor processor improvements actually add up pretty quickly.

We can take it as read nowadays that a laptop costing over a grand is going to be powerful enough for most non-gamers’ needs, but laudably, Dell really tries to push the envelope, and is claiming that the new XPS 13 is the most powerful in its class, the smallest 13-incher ever (‘a 13-inch laptop in an 11-inch case!’) in terms of total surface area, and also has the best battery life of any such device at up to 20 hours for the HD model and 11 for the 4K one.

The longevity is attributed in part to Dell’s Battery Manager and the performance is aided by GORE Thermal Insulation. This is used for insulation on the Mars Rovers and Hyper Velocity Particle capture in the Stardust Probe, whatever that is, and now sucks heat out of your XPS 13 when it’s working hard.

But never mind all that butch stuff. More importantly, the new XPS 13 comes in a choice of silver or, even better, rose gold with a white interior. When I met Dell late last year they suggested the latter was aimed more at women but I think it’s okay for fellas to enjoy colours other than black or grey these days, isn’t it? While the silver model is all machined aluminium, the rose gold and white XPS 13 has an aluminium exterior, but the white portion is made from a new crystalline silica material with the white colour literally woven in, like a fabric, in nine composite layers.

To ensure durability, the alpine white glass fibre weave has titanium oxide coating for a pearlescent sheen and UV and stain-resistant protection to prevent yellowing or staining over time. In fact, if you get a pen mark or other stain on the white interior you can just wipe it off. And with a heat resistance superior to metal, woven glass fibre also stays cooler to facilitate longer performance.

Google’s Pixel 2 Is the Best Android Phone

The good: Clean interface, great camera, long battery life.
The bad: Underwhelming screen, no facial recognition or iris scanning, not much that makes it stand apart from Samsung and Apple.
Who should buy: Any Android fan that values clean software and camera quality, particularly those looking for something beyond what Samsung’s offering.

When Google unveiled its first Pixel smartphone last year, it felt like a giant leap for a company better known for its software and search engine than its gadgets. Google’s message was clear: Apple and Samsung aren’t the only tech giants capable of making high-quality gadgets. That remains the case with the company’s impressive new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones.

Both of the new Pixels take what already worked and complement with admirable new features. The larger Pixel 2 XL includes a nearly borderless screen that dominates the phone’s face: a design approach Samsung, Apple, LG and Essential staked out first. Like other recent phones, the new Pixels have adopted basic water resistance. And the camera boasts some fancy new features, like the ability to capture a few seconds of footage around a still photo to create images that move, and a new Portrait Mode for delivering bokeh effects.

Sound familiar? It should if you’ve been following the smartphone industry for the past year. It’s also a familiar song you could sing about some of Google’s competitors, each of whom invariably borrow a feature here or there in what’s become a game of feature leapfrog. The Pixel 2 and 2 XL are more Google catching up than edging past those others, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth a look. With its easy-to-navigate interface, long battery life and great camera, the larger Pixel 2 XL may in fact be the smartphone of choice for Android fans looking for take fresher than Samsung’s.

Let’s start with screens: the $649 Pixel 2 includes a 5-inch, 1920-by-1080 pixel display, while the pricier $849 XL version has a 2880-by-1440 pixel screen. The XL edition’s nearly edge-to-edge screen is far more impressive. As nearly borderless screens become common on flagship smartphones, the standard Pixel 2’s thick frames make the phone look outdated. The Pixel XL 2’s screen is sharp and vibrant, but not quite as stunning as the displays found on the Samsung Galaxy S8+, Apple iPhone 8 and Essential Phone. All three of those devices produced bolder colors than the Pixel 2 during my experience.

The new Pixel phones are getting another handy new feature that Samsung phones have long had: an always-on display. That means that even when the screen is turned off, you’ll be able to see things like the time and notifications.

Apple Slowing Down Older iPhones

If you’ve ever thought your old iPhone was feeling sluggish, you’re not alone. And you’re not imagining it: Apple has confirmed to multiple media outlets that it slows the performance of older iPhones in order to prevent their aging batteries from causing unexpected shutdowns.

Apple says it began slowing down the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone SE last year, and just began doing so with the iPhone 7, which is little more than a year old. The company’s statement came after a recent Reddit post and blog post on benchmarking tool Geekbench’s website sparked a conversation around the relationship between flagging iPhone performance and battery condition.

Apple may have the best of intentions. Having your phone occasionally slow down is probably preferable to coping with total shutdowns, as is prolonging the overall life of your battery. But some are reading the company’s statement as confirmation of a longstanding myth: Apple slows down old iPhones to get users to upgrade to newer, pricer models as a form of planned obsolescence. (The company also charges about $80 to replace an old iPhone battery with a fresh one.)
Either way, Apple is in some hot water over the issue. A pair of California residents have already filed a class action lawsuit against the company. They claim Apple interfered with the possession of their phones, as they did not consent to Apple’s meddling with their devices’ performance.

The California suit underscores the true issue here. It’s not Apple’s fault that the lithium ion batteries that power iPhones (and lots of other gadgets in our lives) become less potent as they age. But the company wasn’t transparent about its solution to this dilemma, nor did it give users a choice over the matter. When it comes to people who spent hundreds of dollars on an iPhone 6 without being warned the device’s performance may lag after only a couple of years, frustration is understandable. (Apple told TechCrunch that in early 2017 that it “made improvements” to reduce the frequency of shutdowns in older iPhones, but did not clarify what those improvements were. Apple did not respond to TIME’s request for comment on the matter.)
Either way, Apple is in some hot water over the issue. A pair of California residents have already filed a class action lawsuit against the company. They claim Apple interfered with the possession of their phones, as they did not consent to Apple’s meddling with their devices’ performance.

The California suit underscores the true issue here. It’s not Apple’s fault that the lithium ion batteries that power iPhones (and lots of other gadgets in our lives) become less potent as they age. But the company wasn’t transparent about its solution to this dilemma, nor did it give users a choice over the matter. When it comes to people who spent hundreds of dollars on an iPhone 6 without being warned the device’s performance may lag after only a couple of years, frustration is understandable. (Apple told TechCrunch that in early 2017 that it “made improvements” to reduce the frequency of shutdowns in older iPhones, but did not clarify what those improvements were. Apple did not respond to TIME’s request for comment on the matter.)